John J. Slavan, who was known familiarly the length of Lombard street as "Blind Jack," died the other day of pneumonia, and ended a remarkable and adventurous life.
Slavan was born a slave in Alabama. He escaped from slavery and made his way into Pennsylvania by way of Cumberland county's "underground railroad" and along it was passed down through the Lancaster county branch of that great system until he reached Philadelphia, where he ever after resided. At least fifteen years ago, however, Slavan went blind and managed to live only as a sort of watchman for a small shop on Lombard street, but he so bravely made the best of the bargain and so wisely overcame the difficulties which fate had thrown in his way that he was soon the shop's errand boy, and later one of its regular clerks behind the counter,
"He was the most useful man around my place," said his employer. "His sense of touch was wonderful. By it he could make correct change in both paper and silver money-- it was impossible to fool him. He knew and had no trouble in finding anything a customer wanted. He knew every telephone number we used, and he could walk all over the city with nothing but his stick to guide him." --Philadelphia Press.
Detroit (Michigan) Free Press, May 30, 1904.